Commas don’t, kill the message but sure, can make it harder, to understand

The humble comma

The humble comma

Seen on the tailgate of a Chevy Blazer:

Guns Kill People, Like Spoons Made Rosie O’Donnell Fat!

This is not a post about pro or con guns (although I will note that yes, people kill people, but it is EASIER to kill people with a gun, including accidentally), this is a post about language. The thing that really puzzled me about this bumper sticker was that it made its point so poorly. It took me a full three minutes to understand the message because the comma threw off my reading of the sentence. I couldn’t scan it to make sense in my brain. Was this an actual comparison? Did they think that spoons did make Rosis O’Donnell fat? Granted, that might say more about my brain than the wording of the message, I can’t rule that out, but I choose to think not. This bumper sticker reads like a bad translation that you might see at But, presumably, this is the native language of the writer.

So, here’s my question: should you trust a gun to someone that bandies their commas about with no regard to the rules of common usage? What does that say about their ability to own and manage a gun safely?  Let’s remember the title of that best-selling grammar book Eats, Shoots and Leaves. If a comma can turn a peaceful Panda into a psycho-pathic restaurant killer, what could it do to someone who ALREADY believes that guns are their God-given right?

On a final note, what’s with the underlining and the title casing in a sentence? Actually, that’s true of a lot of bumper stickers. Why do they insist on treating sentences like titles?

On the same tailgate:

Kids Who Hunt, Trap & Fish, Don’t Mug Little Old Ladies.

This tailgate also included a Jesus fish (presumably one caught by the same kid who doesn’t mug little old ladies).

It’s like a 2nd rate Jeff Foxworthy bit:

You might be a redneck if…you find yourself in an SUV with two grammatically suspect pro-gun bumper stickers and a Jesus Fish on your tailgate.

To me it’s something of a mixed message, but then, I certainly understand that we humans are all about the contradictions.

About Tentative Equinox North

Theatremaker, Homemaker, Thoughtmaker. Great hair, Probably looking forward to my next nap.
This entry was posted in Aliens and uncharted planets, Observatory and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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